Pigs exposed in utero to human rotavirus (HRV) strain Wa serotype 1 from 15 to 36 days prior to birth responded immunologically by modifying their clinical response to neonatal oral challenge with a pathogenic dose of homologous Wa or heterologous M serotype 3 HRV. In these cases, diarrhea was prevented in 12 of 14 pigs and greatly reduced in the other two. However, fecal virus shedding was not significantly modified, since it was detected in 12 of 14 pigs. These results suggest the existence of a closer antigenic relationship between these two different HRV serotypes which may only be expressed in an in vivo test system. Exposure of fetal pigs to HRV DS-1 serotype 2 failed to cause infection or to induce any protection when pigs were challenged at birth with HRV Wa. This model for cross-protection studies in gnotobiotic piglets offers good possibilities for the evaluation of potential HRV vaccine candidates, for the in vivo study of antigenic similarities between rotavirus serotypes, and for the understanding of protective immune responses against diarrhea and virus shedding
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